Traditions of the apostles in Old English literature
This chapter, by Hugh Magennis, considers the theme of the interpretation and application of Christian knowledge as reflected in treatments of the apostles in vernacular writings in Anglo-Saxon England. The acta of the apostles originated in the East but were transmitted and reworked by western writers, not least in pre-Conquest England. Surveying depictions of the apostles in Old English, Magennis’s chapter emphasises the definitive place that the apostles occupy within Christian systems of knowledge and understanding but also examines how traditions of the apostles are appropriated and reconceived by Anglo-Saxon writers (including the poet of Andreas, whose reworking of his source is considered in greater detail in the chapter in this volume by Richard North).
This edited collection explores how knowledge was preserved and reinvented in the Middle Ages. Unlike previous publications, which are predominantly focused either on a specific historical period or on precise cultural and historical events, this volume, which includes essays spanning from the eighth to the fifteenth centuries, is intended to eschew traditional categorisations of periodisation and disciplines and to enable the establishment of connections and cross-sections between different departments of knowledge, including the history of science (computus, prognostication), the history of art, literature, theology (homilies, prayers, hagiography, contemplative texts), music, historiography and geography. As suggested by its title, the collection does not pretend to aim at inclusiveness or comprehensiveness but is intended to highlight suggestive strands of what is a very wide topic. The chapters in this volume are grouped into four sections: I, Anthologies of Knowledge; II Transmission of Christian Traditions; III, Past and Present; and IV, Knowledge and Materiality, which are intended to provide the reader with a further thematic framework for approaching aspects of knowledge. Aspects of knowledge is mainly aimed to an academic readership, including advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students, and specialists of medieval literature, history of science, history of knowledge, history, geography, theology, music, philosophy, intellectual history, history of the language and material culture.
The Introduction begins by placing the present volume in the context of previous and current work on the subject of medieval knowledge. It goes on to give an outline of medieval perspectives on the meaning, value and transmission of knowledge, noting the influence of classical authors and tracing the development of ideas about knowledge through the writings of key Christian thinkers. Isidore of Seville is identified as the key influence of the medieval encyclopaedic tradition and particular attention is paid to the authoritative work of Augustine, Bede and Aquinas. The introduction relates aspects of these medieval perspectives to specific chapters of the book and also highlights the relationship between religious and secular traditions. It ends with a succinct outline of each chapter.